Have you recently moved to the Netherlands for work and your first day in the office is just around the corner? Are you planning to accept a job offer in the Netherlands or you want to expand your business there? In any case, the Dutch business culture may differ from the one you are used to, and in order to succeed in your career in the Netherlands here are some useful tips about doing business with the Dutch.
One thing that may pop up in your mind when you hear Dutch people is directness. Although we want to steer clear of any stereotypes, you should be prepared for your colleagues’ direct remarks, positive or negative. Dutch people will speak their mind and you should probably do the same if you want to avoid miscommunications. Of course, this directness is not a sign of disrespect, but it is well-intended and honest.
2. Informal Communication Style
What goes hand-in-hand with the directness is the informal communication style. You may be surprised seeing your manager or even CEO interacting in a friendly manner with the rest of the team and being seen as part of it. It is also common to refer to them by their first name and the informal ‘je’.
3. Casual dress code
Business attire can vary depending on the industry, but if you are not working for the government or a higher business circle, even jeans and t-shirts could be an option.
4. Riding the bike to work
You are probably familiar with the stereotype that Dutch kids learn how to ride their bike before learning how to walk. Although this is an exaggeration, it is true that Dutch people are used to riding their bike almost everywhere. Regardless of the weather your Dutch co-workers will most probably ride their bike to work daily and if you are a fan of the healthy lifestyle, this could be your new healthy habit.
5. Lunch breaks
You may also be surprised by this Dutch office lunch habit. Dutch employees usually keep their lunch break very brief, they eat light (even a sandwich or a small salad) and they may even have their lunch behind their desk. At the same time, each company may have its own lunch traditions, which means that while most days the employees are having their sandwich or salad, they are ordering sushi on ‘sushi Thursdays’ or satay on ‘satay Fridays’ etc.
6. The vrijmibo
The vrijmibo or vrijdagmiddagborrel (good luck with pronouncing this) means Friday afternoon drinks and in most Dutch companies it is a must. Dutch people work hard all week and on Fridays they can shut down their computers early and head out to the office kitchen or bar to enjoy some drinks with their colleagues. Even in times of lockdown due to Covid, when many employees had to work from home, online vrijmibo via Zoom meetings became a thing.
7. No extended working hours
Finally, the Netherlands is also known for its work-life balance. Dutch people have structured agendas and at the end of the office hours (usually 5 p.m.) they leave the office in order to be home on time for family dinner, or to go to the gym, hang out with their friends or simply relax at home watching Netflix.
That being said, it should be clarified that work culture can vary between different companies and overgeneralizations should be avoided. We have highlighted the typical Dutch office habits which usually surprise our expat clients but you will always find more interesting and surprising aspects of Dutch office culture.
If you have more office-related or business-related questions or you are simply curious to discover more tips before your first day at work in the Netherlands, Jimble is here to help. Head over to our contact page and schedule an appointment with one of our skilled experts to discuss all your questions extensively.